Capps’ Lead Shrinks, but NAPA Funny Car Team Stays on Championship Course
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 12, 2016) – Ron Capps returned to his home near San Diego on Wednesday after nearly a week in Hawaii visiting with members of his NAPA AUTO PARTS family.
It’s an annual visit he makes with his wife, Shelley, and this time he reeled in a 4-foot ono weighing over 20 pounds. Ono, a close relative of the King Mackerel, means “sweet, very good to eat.”
“Ono” also could describe Capps’ 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season after 21 of 24 events and midway through the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff.
Capps and his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team led by crew chief Rahn Tobler and assistant Eric Lane will begin racing Friday in the AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas ranked No. 1 in the championship standings and has led the points race since the 10th event of the year.
It is the first time Capps has landed an ono and he did it with Ed Fujinaka and about 20 other NAPA Know How friends on board the Luckey Strike Charters boat.
“Firsts” has been a common thread through Capps’ 22nd professional season of NHRA racing.
At Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa., two weeks ago, his win in the quarterfinals pushed his season record in eliminations to 46 round wins which is the most he has won in a season and three events remain.
His record in eliminations improved to 48-18 when he advanced to the championship round for the ninth time this season, another career best.
— #NHRA (@NHRA) October 12, 2016
In the final round at Maple Grove, he lost to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. who was able to pull within 24 points of the NAPA Dodge Charger R/T team. Following them are DSR’s Jack Beckman in third (93 points behind Capps) and Matt Hagan in fourth (110 out of first).
Although Capps has been to a pair of semifinals and one final in the first three Countdown races, Johnson has been to all three final rounds and has gained 60 points in eliminations to cut deeply into Capps’ lead.
“We would loved to have won at Maple Grove but we were happy to get to the final round,” said Capps, who owns 50 event titles including one at the Motorplex in 1998.
“Even though Tommy gained another 20 points on our NAPA Dodge, we were able to extend our lead over the other Countdown teams. The prognosis before the Countdown started was that a team needed to average finishing in the semifinals of the six races, and we’re a little ahead of that pace.”
Mello Yello teams were only able to get in one of four qualifying sessions due to rain at Maple Grove, and when they could run times were extremely quick due to temperatures in the low 60s under cloudy skies.
The forecast for this weekend in Ennis, Texas, is for sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s.
“I don’t see many career-best runs happening at Dallas with the weather we expect to see, but that’s what makes Dallas so much fun and so challenging. Teams outside the top-five will take big chances. We’ll stay on Tobler’s game plan and work to gain points in qualifying and then go rounds on Sunday.”
The NAPA Dodge leads Funny Cars with 28 bonus points in qualifying based on being among the three quickest in a session and where they stand in the final qualifying order for Sunday’s eliminations.
Capps did his part at Maple Grove by masterfully controlling the throttle by pedaling it for a first round win and then winning with a quicker reaction time in the semifinals.
“I was finally able to give back to Tobler and our NAPA Know How guys on those runs, and that means a lot to me when I can drive our Dodge like that. It just shows how much of a complete team effort we have on this NAPA team.”
Ron Capps: NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Last event: Reading (Sept. 30-Oct. 2): Qualified No. 4, lost in championship round to Tommy Johnson Jr.
A year ago at Dallas: Qualified No. 5, lost in semifinals to Del Worsham
Career at Dallas: Wins 1 (1998); Runner-ups 1 (2011); Poles 2 (1997, 2005)
*49 FC/1 TF; Best time, speed: 3.843 sec. (2016, Seattle); 330.23 mph (2016, Seattle)
2016 NHRA Countdown to the Championship Funny Car Standings
After 3 of 6 Countdown events
|Driver (2016 event titles)||points|
|1||Ron Capps (5)||2368|
|2||Tommy Johnson Jr. (2)||2334|
|3||Jack Beckman (2)||2275|
|4||Matt Hagan (3)||2258|
|5||Del Worsham (1)||2246|
|6||John Force (3)||2230|
|7||Tim Wilkerson (2)||2196|
|8||Robert Hight (1)||2193|
|9||Courtney Force (1)||2182|
|10||Alexis DeJoria (1)||2099|
AAA Texas Fall Nationals TV Schedule (all times ET)
Friday, October 14: 7:30 pm – Qualifying on FS1
Sunday, October 15: 1:00 am – Qualifying on FS1
Sunday, October 15: 2:00 pm – Eliminations on FS1